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Veteran Member
May 2, 2019
United States
I'm familiar with sailboats being either "coastal" or "blue water." What about in the "motorized" world?

Can any trawler make it to Bahamas, Bermuda, Hawaii? If not, how would you recognize the difference?

Lastly, What about express cruisers... Can they be taken offshore?

Thank you in advance,
Mark Koontz
You'll probably get a lively discussion. Here's my take: Theoretically any trawler can be taken far off shore - heck people row around the world right? There are "coastal cruisers and "offshore" types. IMO most trawlers are NOT made for far offshore ocean passages, but there are certainly some that are. In addition to a number of offshore specific build features, (High bows, very strong hull and windows, redundant everything, etc.) one very big deal is how much fuel one can carry.

Can an express cruiser be taken far offshore? Sure but if the seas got really rough, it might become dangerous quickly.

Anything can be taken off shore.
Will it come back in one piece?
Welcome aboard. Most any trawler can do the Bahamas, they take 16’ boats there on a good day. Bermuda and Hawaii are different things, there I would want a true blue water trawler. My boat has a range of about 600 miles or less ir I go faster. Most power boaters do not do the long range off shore cruising. Express cruisers can go offshore but probably not far due to small fuel capacity. Good luck with your search.
The "BoatSearch101" sticky in the General Discussion section gets into the differences, although it takes a while to ferret it all out. But basically, it's "full displacement" sailboat type hulls for blue or twins carrying a lot of fuel. The vast majority of the boats owned by forum members are coastal cruisers. Some examples of "blue water"/offshore capable boats in the 40-65' range are Nordhavn, some Krogens, some Selenes, possibly the Hatteras LRCs, Diesel Ducks. Most of the rest are poseurs. (Welcome aboard)
Here are some differences:

Almost all have sufficient ballast to be self righting with a vanishing stability point of well past 100 degrees, often 120 to 140.

Almost all have small portlights which can't be blasted by green water.

Almost al have self draining cockpits although not all have sufficient clearance to the bottom of the companion way to be considered blue water capable.

Almost all are built pretty tough. You have to be tough to deal with the sail forces. Not all are blue water capable though.


Few have ballast and few have a vanishing stability of more than 90 degrees, usually 70 or so.

Most have windows that a big slug of green water would cave in. I have a picture of a downeaster that caved in its front end coming into Oregon Inlet.

Most have self draining cockpits but often the main salon is at the same elevation. Maybe you could say that the main salon is self draining ;-).

Some additional characteristics of blue water boats:

Engine room vents mounted high to avoid downflooding.

Generally built heavier to withstand blue water storms.

Redundant electrical and communication systems.

The list goes on and on.

So I would take almost any trawler to the Bahamas but very few such as Rufus' list above to Bermuda or Hawaii.

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As the others have said, Bahamas is an easy run and every boat on this site can make that trip. Bermuda introduces additional challenges. The biggest is range, distance and time. If you have the fuel capacity to make the trip, on most boats you're still talking about 80 hours or so. If you look today, you'll see 3' at 6 seconds off the coast. However, by the time you reach Bermuda you're into 7' at 8 seconds. Let's watch that system clear by the 28th and you're down to 5' at 6 seconds. By the 29th you're at 3' at 7 seconds, looks wonderful, but it's 5' at 5 seconds off the coast so rough start. Just with the distance to Bermuda you're talking typically very different conditions from the start to the end of the trip. You're also talking long enough periods that changes to the forecast may occur. Now take that to Hawaii and you're several times what you face going to Bermuda.

Just a simple safety factor. You break down between the US and Bermuda and you can still get a tow, even covered possibly under your membership. Not ideal. Takes time. May leave you uncomfortable for a while, but on their way. When you're hundreds of miles off shore, all that safety factor is gone.

There is a reason in Captain's licensing that there's a Near Coastal license that only covers 200 nm from shore and an upgrade required to go further. Once you get over 200 nm from shore you face a whole new set of challenges that can put your seamanship to a test, more even than the boat. Still you depend on the boat and it requires a different boat.

Boat needed is a combination of design and size. The smaller the boat, the more critical that it meets all the criteria of being an ocean going boat. Above a hundred feet, nearly every boat will. In between, many questions. Definitely limited builders as mentioned above building passagemakers.
Thanks all of you -

I am approaching retirement and have added Great Loop to my bucket list. Therefore I'm trying to balance:
Liveable for 1 or 2
Clearance for the Loop
Diesel (only because I think the fuel can sit a long time in tank)

And after the Loop, good enough to make it down to Panama....

So maybe I don't need "blue water?"

Mr. mp. Welcome aboard. Live aboard and loop can be done in almost anything=no blue water. Panama? Perhaps similar IF you watch the weather and there are enough places to duck into in case of bad weather.
Three days is my limit to trust the weather, particularly areas that don't have the population density and weather reporting like the continental US. It is the current weather reports that feed the models and the models provide the forecasts.

But three days will get you 500 miles in a trawler going 7 kts. That makes Panama a possibility and most of the Caribbean as long as you have enough fuel and are willing to wait until the weather forecast is favorable.

A blue water boat to me is one that can handle most any weather thrown at it, short of a hurricane.

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